.All Trips / Alberta / Central Canada / North America

Calgary’s New Central Library

00 Downtown Calgary Library

Calgary’s new Central Library is located on the eastern edge of downtown.  It opened about two years ago on Nov 1, 2018, replacing the existing library branch in Downtown Calgary.  As you can see, the exterior of the building uses textured and clear glass panes in an effective manner.

The building is considered a new landmark in the city and has been a popular destination, with visitation so far at about 2,000,000 people per year.

The city had begun planning for a new library in 2004 and contracted with architectural firms Snøhetta (an international/Norwegian firm) and Dialog (a Canadian firm).  Their design features an oval shape with a large central skylight  and a spacious central four-story atrium.

Central Atrium, Downtown Calgary Library

Central Atrium, Downtown Calgary Library

Construction began in 2015 and the final cost was $245 million.  The building is 240,000 sq ft spread over five levels, and it contains 600,000 items.  The city has about $4 billion in debt so there was controversy about the high cost of the library (around $1,000/sq ft) compared to the costs of a standard commercial building (around $20-30/sq ft).  Admittedly there are a lot of enhancements to the library, but it comes with a staggering price tag. 1% of the budget was dedicated to public art.

The building’s entrance is one floor above street level because a light rail commuter train runs through its base. The building’s architecture has been popular and has won widespread recognition.   As you can see from these photos, there is extensive use of wood.

Entrance to the Downtown Calgary Library

Entrance to the Downtown Calgary Library

The library contains a performance hall and many conference rooms, most available for free to Calgary library card holders.  A popular feature of the library is the 12,000 sq foot Jocelyn Louise Anderson Children’s library which is incorporated within the structure.

The library has a popular teen center filled with activities and games, many desktop computers.  There are many places people can work and read.  There’s even a special section featuring Calgary’s story (southern Alberta history), and there are special rotating art exhibits.

Downtown Calgary Library

Downtown Calgary Library

If you visit:

The Central Library is located at 800 3rd street SE, directly east of City Hall.

Admission is free, as are library cards for Calgary residents.  Public bike racks are located around the building and the C-Train stops nearby.  Parking is available in the City Hall parkade and parking lots around the library.  Free tours are available (contact library for their schedule), but the building is easy to explore on your own as I did.



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